We sat down with Chaitanya Bhatt (EMBA ’22), executive director at C6 Incubator and the director of data and AI at Purolator to talk about leadership, the importance of diversity in an organization, and a new BIPOC entrepreneurship incubator he founded.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
If I had the chance to offer guidance to my younger self, the initial suggestion would be to not hesitate in approaching others and forming significant bonds. Additionally, I’d encourage my younger self to embrace new experiences, even if they feel uneasy, and to put genuine effort into nurturing those connections with people. I believe these actions lay the groundwork for a fulfilling and successful career for anyone.
What are the top three skills or attributes that you feel are important in a business leader?
- Effective leadership is paramount. A business leader must excel in crafting and communicating a compelling vision, motivating others to embrace this vision, and devising a clear strategy that enables every team member to understand their role in achieving it.
- A deep understanding of their role within the organizational structure is essential. Whether a CEO or in another position, recognizing one’s place in the overall value chain is crucial. This understanding is vital for a leader to effectively influence and drive progress.
- Humility is critical. A business leader should be able to set aside their ego, acknowledging that leadership roles can change. Adopting a servant leadership mindset, where the focus is on serving others rather than asserting authority, is key to long-term success and sustainability in a leadership position.
What makes a good business leader?
The ability to effectively lead is paramount. This involves crafting a clear and compelling vision, and more importantly, motivating your team to pursue and realize this vision. The capacity to inspire and guide others towards a shared goal is a fundamental aspect of leadership.
A thorough understanding of one’s role within the organization is also crucial. A good business leader must recognize where they and their team contribute value in the organizational value chain. This awareness and positioning are vital for effective leadership and decision-making.
The style of leadership employed is another important factor. Various leadership styles exist, but personally, I find servant leadership to be the most impactful. This approach focuses on empowering and supporting team members, fostering a trust-based environment. When there is mutual trust among team members and with the leader, the team can achieve remarkable success.
What important lessons have you learned so far in your career?
Throughout my career, I’ve learned numerous valuable lessons, but one stands out: treat everyone you interact with as a stakeholder. This means recognizing that each interaction, whether it’s with a team member, a supervisor, or a high-ranking executive, is significant. Every individual, regardless of their title or position, should be viewed as a stakeholder in your professional journey. This approach not only shifts how you perceive others but also transforms your interactions, fostering a more inclusive and responsive attitude towards everyone in your organization.
Every opportunity to assist someone becomes a moment to address a need, enhancing your effectiveness and relationships at work.
Who inspires you?
My source of inspiration, Pujya Mahant Swami Maharaj (the sixth and current spiritual guru of BAPS), has a profound impact on my life, especially considering my deep spiritual beliefs. His life and teachings embody values and principles that resonate deeply with me. He has dedicated his life to serving others selflessly, a quality that I find immensely admirable and aspire to emulate.
Even at the age of 90, his commitment to helping others remains unwavering. This remarkable dedication inspires me to reflect on how I can incorporate similar values into my own life. I see his life as a template for making meaningful contributions to the world around me. The way he has touched the lives of countless individuals motivates me to think about how I can positively influence those in my circle, however big or small it may be.
The mentorship and guidance I have received from him go beyond mere advice; they are life lessons that have shaped my perspective and approach to personal and professional relationships. It’s about embracing a mindset of service and humility, and understanding the impact we can have on others through our actions and decisions.
In essence, my aspiration is to pay it forward – to take the wisdom and teachings I’ve gained from my guru and apply them in ways that benefit others. Whether it’s through mentorship, leadership, or everyday interactions, I hope to contribute positively and uphold the values that I’ve learned from such an inspiring figure in my life.
Why did you start C6 Incubator?
The motivation behind founding C6 Incubator stemmed from the pressing needs within the BIPOC community – encompassing Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. These groups often face significant barriers in terms of access to networks, funding, and established mechanisms necessary to realize their entrepreneurial dreams.
Recognizing this, the C6 Incubator aims to provide tailored support to these entrepreneurs. We understand that the term BIPOC encompasses a diverse range of experiences and needs, making a one-size-fits-all program ineffective. Instead, our strategy involves a customized approach, working closely with each entrepreneur to address their unique challenges and requirements. This bespoke method is designed to offer the most effective support, enhancing their chances of success in their entrepreneurial ventures.
Why is diversity so important within an organization?
Diversity within an organization holds a special significance for me. Extensive research on team effectiveness and productivity consistently highlights diversity as a crucial element for success. Diverse teams are more likely to achieve the desired outcomes set by leaders or organizations.
At its core, diversity is about bringing varied perspectives to the table. The broader the range of viewpoints represented, the richer and more effective the decision-making and problem-solving processes become.
This variety in perspectives is what drives innovation and creativity, leading to superior results. Hence, diversity is not just beneficial but essential for the sustained success and growth of any organization. It fosters an environment where different ideas and experiences come together, paving the way for more comprehensive and inclusive solutions.
Why is it important to support BIPOC entrepreneurs?
Supporting BIPOC entrepreneurs is crucial due to the unique challenges they often face. Many BIPOC individuals are drawn to entrepreneurship as an alternative to traditional employment routes, which may be less accessible to them due to limited networks or opportunities. However, upon entering the entrepreneurial world, they frequently encounter significant hurdles, such as a lack of funding and networking opportunities. This situation can become particularly dire when initial, self-funded or friends-and-family supported ventures face common entrepreneurial challenges, without access to additional resources or support networks to overcome these obstacles. Consequently, without adequate support, many of these businesses risk failure.
The importance of supporting BIPOC entrepreneurs extends beyond the individuals themselves to the broader societal impact. When these entrepreneurs thrive, they contribute positively to the economy. Successful businesses can generate wealth, pay taxes, create jobs, and drive productivity, benefiting the community as a whole.
Therefore, providing targeted assistance to BIPOC entrepreneurs is not only a matter of addressing individual inequalities but also a strategy for fostering wider economic and societal growth. By supporting these entrepreneurs, we can help to reverse the negative impacts of systemic barriers and contribute to a more equitable and prosperous society for everyone.